Media Statements

COGTA Condemns Initiation Death in the Eastern Cape  

The Ministry for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs is saddened by the untimely passing of two initiates in the OR Tambo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province and sends sincere condolences to the families and friends of the deceased.

In many communities young men embark on this sacred path towards adulthood with the hope of coming back into their communities transformed into being matured men. This rite of passage is critical to young men developing into responsible, community-oriented adults and has been a central element of traditional African cultures since time immemorial and a necessary part of many African communities.

The passing of the two initiates, one being a 19 year old initiate from Enyandeni who died as a result of dehydration, whilst second one died at King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality as a result of intestinal obstruction. This senseless loss of life of the initiates, happened at an illegal initiation schools. The passing of this two initiates brings the number of deaths to 5 (2 Mpumalanga, 1 Gauteng and 2 Eastern Cape).

“It saddens me that this death happened even though we have put in place key issues that should be followed by parents before the young men embark on the initiation process. This includes pre-screening of young men before embarking on the initiation process, ensuring that initiation schools are properly registered, including the surgeons and ensuring that they drink water to avoid dehydration”, Said Deputy Minister Bapela. The deputy Minister indicated that it is unacceptable that initiates should still die when we have put mechanisms in place to address this issues.

We want to reiterate that initiates should do away with the myth that they should not drink water before and during the initiation as this will always result in their death due to dehydration.

However, the Deputy Minister commends the initiation coordinating teams, which are operating on the ground for having rescued about 84 initiates from illegal schools. Five (5) initiates from those who were rescued, are in serious condition whilst the remaining initiates 79 will be relocated to a safe area today. Deputy Minister said the department “We welcome the arrest of the traditional surgeon for the death of one initiate and continue to call for more arrests as people act wrongfully in the name of culture,” says DM Bapela.

“Guided by our theme – “We Love Our Tradition, We Value Life of Our Youth”, we urge parents and communities in general not to drop the ball, but should remain vigilant throughout this period to ensure that our children return back home alive, let’s adopt “Zero Tolerance to initiation deaths.

We urge communities to report any wrong doing related to initiation through this hotline number – 0800 111 166 or #InitiationDTA.


Legadima Leso

Head of Communications – COGTA

Cell: 083 378 9495